Art, music, theater, dance, mythology inspire my themes. Sometimes themes grow out of each other (Last Dance, Stravinsky Dancers, the dance of Salome’). Sometimes they transform or overlap (Icarus, Arlecchino), drastically change (Tuscan Landscapes, 12 months on Colleramole, Olive Trees, views of Barga), or take a dramatic turn (Labyrinth and Dreams of a Chess Player).
Most of the subjects throughout my themes seek to explore the nature of the human subcounscious and the conflictual state of individual vs. society. In my work, this conflict plays itself out in mostly dreamlike and erotic ways. Oneiricism and eroticism, coupled with form and color, intertwine to generate new life in at times subtle, at times provocative, ways.
In 1962, when I was still a student at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), I saw Pieter Brueghel’s painting of the “Fall of Icarus” and read W. H. Auden’s poem about the painting. Both had a profound impact on me and would continue to fascinate me for the next 40 years. During this time, Icarus flew in and out of many themes related to the Vietnam War, the abduction of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro, Oneiric Carnival, and the Arlecchino (Harlequin) Series.
Salome’ is a suite of nine multi-plate color etchings based on Oscar Wilde’s one-act play. The images include lines from Wilde’s original text and a series of pen and ink drawings that served to develop the nine etchings.
The Labyrinth series consists of thirty-six pen and ink drawings (70 x 100 cm) made between mid March and late September 1978. The images represent my reaction to the kidnapping and assassination of Aldo Moro (former Italian Prime Minister and then president of the Christian Democrat party) by the Red Brigade in early 1978. Some of the drawings were made with mirrors in the shape of a labyrinth to reflect our own images within the drama.
Oneiric Carnival is a variation on the Labyrinth series retold as a dream in color through a suite of nine multi-plate color etchings. The series is dedicated to Marino Marini with whom I collaborated for eight years until Marini passed away in 1980.
The last multi-plate color etching of the Oneiric Carnival series (1982) was done in homage to Stravinsky and gave birth to a new series of prints made between 1983 and 1984. This series would use Stravinsky’s hand-written score of The Rites of Spring as a point of departure and would continue to develop into nine variations on the theme.
The Last Dance, the largest etching my press could manage (65 x 94 cm.), was made to conclude a series of images based on the theme of dance beginning with the dance of Salome’ (1975), continuing with dances to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Nine Variations, and ending with the Last Dance. Ballo in Maschera is a variation on this last theme where I use the same plates from the Last Dance in a tertiary color palette.
Twelve months on Colleramole (1988-90) pays homage to the hillside just south of Florence where I have lived and worked since 1967. The series consists of 12 images of views looking either from my house or towards it in the colors of the 12 months during which the images were done.
The Four Seasons (1990-91), a follow-up to the Twelve Months, is based on the same idea and condensed into four views with their respective seasonal tonalities.
Souvenir de Florence is a tribute to Russian composer Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky.
A suite of seven multi-plate color etchings inspired by lectures given at the 1989 World Symposium on Memory (La Fabbrica del Pensiero) by Jonathan Spence on Matteo Ricci and Corrado Bologna on Giulio Camillo.
In Sandro Botticelli's painting "La Primavera" (Springtime), Zephyr, the wind god, couples with Chloris, Zephyr's beloved nymph, who transforms into Flora, the goddess of springtime. We are in the realm of Venus, the realm of love and beauty.
In the Botticelli series, I couple the figures of Flora and the three Graces with the flowers that bloom in Venus' garden in spring, summer, fall, and winter, using C. G. Jung’s "acausal principle of synchronicity." Twenty-one plates in all are coupled, in an acausal manner, with the flowers and colors of the four seasons to generate 21 variations of each image.
The olive trees that grow outside my studio on the Tuscan hillside of Colleramole always remind me of human figures. Therefore, while I look at them as trees, it is very tempting and easy to transform them into orgiastic dancers as in a dream.
The Harlequin figure has appeared in many themes throughout the years, but in 2006 this colorful figure from the Italian "Commedia dell'Arte" became the main protagonist of my work. In the 2006-2011 series, Arlecchino takes on new meaning as I gradually alter his perpetual condition of rejection and disappointment to create a different outcome in which, after the courtship and dance, Colombina now falls in love with Arlecchino and they marry.
In Le Nozze di Arlecchino (the Marriage of Harlequin), Colombina changes her name to Arlecchina, undresses and redresses herself in the colorful patchwork of Arlecchino, and the two blend together in a state of erotic sensuality and orgiastic love.